Encapsulates the bravery, intrigue, and compassion that defined a generation, presenting a history that everyone should...

MEMPHIS, MARTIN, AND THE MOUNTAINTOP

THE SANITATION STRIKE OF 1968

Fifty years on, readers reminisce with a young black girl who recalls how black sanitation workers launched a movement for equal rights and safer working conditions and stayed committed to justice amid tragic loss.

Basing her story on the true accounts of Dr. Almella Starks-Umoja, Duncan creates 9-year-old Lorraine Jackson to tell the full story of the Memphis sanitation strike of 1968. The story begins not with the entrance of Martin Luther King, who would arrive in March, but in January, when the tragic deaths of two black garbagemen due to old, malfunctioning equipment added to calls for change. The author’s choice to not focus on the singular efforts of King but on the dedicated efforts of community signals a deeply important lesson for young readers. Strong historical details back up the organizing feat: “In the morning and afternoon, for sixty-five days, sanitation workers marched fourteen blocks through the streets of downtown Memphis.” The narrative is set in vignettes that jump between verse and prose, set against Christie’s bold paintings. Lorraine learns that “Dreamers never quit” after reminiscing on what would be Dr. King’s final lecture, delivered on April 3. The struggle doesn’t end with King’s death but continues with the spotlight cast by Coretta Scott King on the sanitation workers’ demands. “Freedom is never free,” Lorraine notes before closing with the thought that it remains our mission to “Climb up the MOUNTAINTOP!”

Encapsulates the bravery, intrigue, and compassion that defined a generation, presenting a history that everyone should know: required and inspired. (Picture book. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62979-718-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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An astute educator or parent can use this book to start important conversations about Canada’s history and its people.

MAKING CANADA HOME

HOW IMMIGRANTS SHAPED THIS COUNTRY

Just in time for the 150th anniversary of Canada, Hughes traces the history and impact of immigration in the country.

The book’s organization, design, and photography are clear and accessible, with insets and sidebars adding variety to the content, making this a valuable addition to classrooms and libraries. Guidance from educators or parents may be necessary to ensure the young readers’ comprehension, as the text is uneven with regard to what the author explains. Selected words are defined (“abolished” means “ended,” for instance), while major concepts are not (why are immigrants considered a source of cheap labor?). Hughes emphasizes the importance of acknowledging the injustice inherent to Canada's founding and its subsequent immigration policies in both the introduction and conclusion—but she obscures rather than elucidates this aspect of history in some sections about Aboriginal peoples and black immigrants while expanding on it in others. The text relies heavily on ironic quotation marks, forcing young readers to deduce what isn’t written. By contrast, the author more explicitly explains discrimination and repression that others commit, as in the new United States’ oppression of Loyalists, or for which Canada has apologized, as in the turning away of the Komagata Maru and its would-be South Asian immigrants.

An astute educator or parent can use this book to start important conversations about Canada’s history and its people. (timeline, immigration laws, statistics, further reading, glossary) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-77147-202-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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Meditative, devotional, and vital.

TREATY WORDS

FOR AS LONG AS THE RIVERS FLOW

Relationships between people and land, grandfather and granddaughter, frame a story on the significance of treaties.

Whether spending time “on and with the river” researching and restocking sturgeon, leading mapping projects dedicated to highlighting original place names in Anishinaabemowin, or heading “into the bush” alone every spring, Mishomis has lived a full life “out on the land.” In order to impart lessons from his life and teach his granddaughter about the importance of maintaining a connection to place, he sits with her along a river bank. There, they “let the silence speak” until the sounds of nature provide an opportunity for him to remind her of her “responsibilities to this land and water, and to their stories.” But perhaps the most important teaching he hopes she carries forward—one rooted in the first treaty made “between the earth and the sky”—is the power of working together and acting with “respect, reciprocity and renewal.” Appropriately, this unique story’s plot doesn’t follow the typical narrative structure that revolves around conflict. Attorney Craft’s (Anishinaabe Métis) lyrical prose, richly layered with Anishinaabe language, culture, and philosophy, centers the story on an Indigenous understanding of treaties in their truest sense, as “agreements to make relationships.” Swinson’s (Anishinaabe) beautifully colored illustrations rendered in an arresting graphic style give a decidedly modern feel to a story that links generations. Its unusually small trim (4.5-by-6.5 inches) means it can travel in pockets as readers themselves engage with the land.

Meditative, devotional, and vital. (author’s note) (Picture book. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77321-496-2

Page Count: 60

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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